Monday, November 2, 2015

Emily Rinkema's Halloween Reflection

There were so many highlights from my time at Common Ground this weekend. One was watching the students present about their topics and ask each other questions the first evening. They seemed genuinely interested in each other's ideas, which we saw play out later as well. Another highlight was during the team conversations day 2--to watch the two high school girls work with their middle school teammate, and to see all of them pushing each other to think more critically was incredible. I can't wait to see this relationship develop (though I can anticipate some challenges for sure!).

I must say that I was surprised and impressed by students' willingness to compromise about their topics. I was worried that the fact that they didn't know each other would lead to a bunch of "silo" ideas--but Tim and Colleen did a great job finessing the group-making. Another a-ha is the importance of this overnight; I had been skeptical about the need for an overnight, but watching the difference in the way the students interacted on day 1 vs day 2 showed that the bonding that happens when you're tired and not pressed for time is so valuable--I imagine that the relationships begun this weekend will help when challenges arise along the way.

I wonder about a few things. First, because we are a standards-based class, I think students need to know throughout the year where they are on the targets and what they need to work on. We have the scales, and I wonder if the instructors will be looking at individual student work and assessing using those...and then as a whole group determining if there are skills that need to be instructed. I also wonder how we keep the excitement/momentum from the weekend going--I have seen two of my students this morning and they are both so excited...and I want that to continue!

  • One of the Middlebury fund raisers is working up a proposal to get us more resources. She's wondering about your sense of "Bread-Loafness" of WtS? and "how Vermont BLTN is exploring new ground in portfolio-based, student-initiated learning." Any thoughts for her?
WtS is SOOOOOO Bread Loaf, from the collaboration (student and teacher), to the social action element, to the rigor involved in the tasks the students (and teachers) will continue to be doing. I think that the bonding that happened this weekend is also very Bread Loaf--I wasn't able to spend the night, but I have heard from adults and students that talking and playing cards in the lodge was a highlight--much like the many late nights spent in the Barn at Ripton campus.

Thanks to everyone who made this weekend such a success. 

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